Sol Coast Outreach: Solar Cars In Schools

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Sol Coast is committed to contributing to the community through many unique outreach programs. In this week’s installation of Sol Coast Outreach- we are making inroads into schools to give students hands on experience in researching their very own solar cars. The following is an introduction of what the students will be doing. 

The students will learn how to make their own model solar car that will run entirely from the power of the sun.

How It Works


The students will experience first-hand the process of design. When the student designs the car, she will start with some ideas in her head and turn then into real-life models that work. Design is different than normal problem-solving, because the student does not know what the problems are (discovering and solving problems as one goes along and everyone’s challenges will be different). There is never one right answer designers have to deal with tradeoffs. For example, when a car designer uses a larger engine for greater performance, this usually sacrifices fuel efficiency. In a sports car, performance and speed are very important. But in a city car, fuel efficiency is more important. So it is up to the designer to decide which are the most important goals. Even though there is no one right answer, some answers may be better than others for a particular application. 

How to Get Started:

The students will receive short handouts on a variety of subjects from how to build the wheels to how the solar cells works. These handouts will cover the following topics:

• chassis: how to build the frame of the car

• wheels and bearings: how to make wheels that turn

• power source: how the solar panel and motor work

• transmission: how to transfer power from the motor to the wheels

• body shell: how the shell effects car performance in general

Each handout will be composed of 4 parts:

• purpose

• ideas

• concept

• suggested materials

By using this process students will come away with greater knowledge about solar energy, design and implementation. Sol Coast is proud to foster these concepts and hands on learning opportunities for our local schools. In the following weeks we will provide pictures and testimonials. Stay tuned!